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Assisting Individuals in Their Journey Toward Self-Discovery and Self-Improvement With the Help of Animals

Our Work in the Community

We work with individuals experiencing suicidal ideation, addiction, depression, anxiety, and many more mental health challenges. Nothing is more rewarding than being able to make a positive impact in the lives of others and we are grateful for our opportunity to do so every week.

Meet the Team Behind Animals With Heart

Angela Schmitt, M.A., Owner

Angela has more than 24 years of experience in diverse therapeutic settings, which include dolphin-assisted therapy, equine-assisted therapy, wilderness experiencing, and traditional counseling as well as therapy in youth sober living and at-risk youth camps.

Angela works with children and adults faced with various forms of cognitive, physical, mental, emotional, and social challenges. She also works with teens within their family systems to provide successful relationship repairs that foster more positive and healthy family dynamics.

Angela’s primary focus is transformation, from teens to adults looking for a new way to see life. By working through their blocks and barriers, clients begin healing the wounds that allow a new sense of self to emerge.

She prides herself in finding creative and heartfelt ways, along with her animal partners, to assist her in her therapy programs and help her clients succeed. Angela has a natural calling for her work and an innate desire to serve others.

Angela is certified in Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy and holds an MA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology as well as additional degrees in human development and early childhood development. Integrating her education and natural abilities coupled with her love of people and animals, Angela is able to do profound work with her clients.

Lisa Allen, B.A.

Lisa and her horse Chi joined Animals With Heart in July 2016. She is a horse handler and educator for the program.

Horses have always been a part of Lisa’s life. She is a retired teacher who worked with the special needs population for 34 years in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. Her knowledge of working with emotionally dysregulated students is a great asset to our program.

Since joining Animals With Heart, Lisa and Chi have helped thousands of adults and adolescents privately as well as those seeking treatment for addiction and general mental health challenges.

She recognizes the needs of the populations we work with and has a profound understanding of the importance of developing meaningful interactions with each client individually. By gaining a deeper understanding of a person's unique challenges, she is able to effectively facilitate our program and provide the essential support that they need to recover.

Mandy Plunkte, A.A.S.

Mandy is passionate about working with horses. She loves seeing and experiencing the way they bring healing to people, helping them become stronger and braver through unconditional love and acceptance. “It’s a powerful thing I’ve experienced for myself," she said. 

Having children of her own, safety is her top priority. This is Mandy’s background:

  • AAS degree in equine-assisted science
  • More than 30 years of riding experience
  • More than 26 years working with and training horses
Her work experience includes:
  • Horse wrangler and camp counselor at a high adventure ranch for youth in the Southern New Mexico mountains
  • Veterinary technician
  • Riding lessons instructor
  • Barn manager
  • Breeding and foaling

Christine Badoux, Equine-Assisted Experiential Coach

Christine is a speaker, writer, and highly trained experiential coach who passionately promotes the learning and healing that occurs between horses and humans. Christine is the founder of Equine Experiential Coaching, which she operates at the Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary in Cave Creek, Arizona.

She strives to improve the quality of life for both horses and humans through her coaching sessions, workshops, and retreats as well as by volunteering at the sanctuary.

Christine’s training includes Monty Robert’s Introductory Certification Course in Solvang, California, and the Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) level 1 and 2 training courses.

She also believes some of her best training comes from parenting a child on the autism spectrum, as she received over four years of one-on-one intensive behavioral training from the Southwest Autism Research & Research Center (SARRC.)

Prior to meeting up with horses, Christine received her BA in International Relations from Syracuse University and spent more than 10 years in the hospitality industry, working for Four Seasons, Westin, and Destination Hotels and Resorts. She currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her two favorite teachers: her daughter, Isabelle, and her son, Alex.

Karen Gray, Certified Equine-Assisted Coach

Karen is a Certified Equine Facilitated Coach, life coach, and PATH-certified equine-assisted specialist in mental health and learning. Her certifications, combined with her psychology degree from USC, have given her a strong foundation of education for her roles in working with her clients.

She combines her education and vast experience in equine-facilitated coaching and mental health to help people of all ages work through trauma, overcome challenges and obstacles, and discover their strengths, gifts, and talents.

Karen delivers strategies and compassionate services to all individuals, enabling their journey for living a happier and more fulfilling life.

Her work with horses and various mentors have allowed Karen to develop exceptional and unique skills and talents. She uses her skills to help individuals gain self-worth, self-respect, and strength for living their best and personally enriching, highest life.

She works with clients starting at age two. These include those who have experienced or are experiencing trauma of any kind or have gone through or are going through any of the following:

  • Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Divorce
  • Grief and loss
  • Addiction recovery
  • PTSD, anxiety, and depression (veterans and other individuals)
  • Personal or family loss and stress, such as job loss, couples and family issues, and lack of purpose or direction in life

Karen has a sensitive and compassionate nature, intuitive gift, and remarkable strength for helping others develop the skills to move through trauma and become confident, loving, and strong individuals.

She enjoys helping people enrich their lives through the assistance of horses so they may enjoy happier, more fulfilling lives that are rich with meaning, joy, love, strength, peace, and purpose.

Coming Soon

Samantha Lloyd, MSW Intern

Samantha is currently working on a master's in social work at Arizona State University. An animal lover from birth, she aspires to work with and support people through challenges in life alongside the assistance of animals. In school, Samantha has learned about trauma, grief, cultural hardships, social policy, as well as foundations of clinical work. In her internship experience, she has been able to work with adults and adolescents with our animals to further her skills as a therapist.

Prior to starting her graduate education, Samantha received a bachelor's in broadcast journalism and a master's in science policy from ASU and has been working in marketing for the university for eight years. Having strong communication skills and policy knowledge has supported her future endeavors of working with, and being an advocate for a variety of people.


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